Colorado won't require masks as Delta variant dominates
The more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is rampant in Colorado, but Gov. Jared Polis dismissed the need for new public health restrictions to stop its spread.
Why it matters: The variant first discovered in India now comprises 9 of 10 cases in Colorado, well above the national average.
- Case counts increased more than 20% in two weeks and deaths recently topped 7,000, according to the New York Times tracker.
- Elsewhere, cities like Los Angeles and Austin are requiring or recommending masking to combat the Delta variant.
In a briefing Wednesday, Polis said that he would only consider mask requirements or other similar health protocols if the state's hospital systems are at risk of being overwhelmed.
- His administration also says Colorado students and teachers won't need to wear masks when they return to school, even as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends them.
- Polis' stance is in line with federal recommendations at the moment.
What he's saying: Polis said the state is not "focused as much on positive cases," and instead looks at hospitalization rates.
- The current level "is not a threat," he said.
- He said 96% of hospitalizations for COVID-19 are people who are not fully vaccinated.
Flashback: Polis declared an end to the pandemic July 8, lifting most public health emergency rules.
Of note: Colorado hit the 70% adult vaccination mark by July 4, but uptake of the vaccine since then has been slow. The state is now at 71%.
- The state is partnering with Walmart to offer $100 gift cards to those who get vaccinated at certain sites. And community colleges are offering scholarships to students who get vaccinated.
Yes but: Similar incentives, such as the state's $1 million sweepstakes, have not made a major difference in vaccination rates.
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